West Coast Ports

West Coast Ports

Productivity is the name of the game for West Coast ports leading up to the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015. Unlike many of the ports on the East and Gulf coasts that are deepening their harbors and enlarging their marine terminals to prepare for the mega-ships that will begin transiting the canal in 2015, the major West Coast gateways already have 50-foot harbors and terminals of 100 to more than 400 acres in size.

In order to prevent an erosion of market share to East Coast ports, the Seattle-Tacoma, Oakland and Los Angeles-Long Beach gateways must improve their efficiency in unloading vessels, moving containers through the yards and expediting the departure of containers by truck and intermodal rail.

The 25 to 26 container moves per crane per hour that mark West Coast port operations must be increased to at least 30 moves per hour. Terminal operators are exploring options for automating yard, gate and on-dock rail operations. The busiest terminals will invest in costly equipment such as dual-hoist cranes, automated guided vehicles and automated stacking cranes. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle about 40 percent of U.S. imports from Asia, will spend more than $7 billion in the coming decade on larger, more efficient terminals and improved connectivity to rail and highway networks.

Offering a transit time advantage of a week to 10 days to the U.S. interior, and the potential for reducing per-slot vessel costs by hundreds of dollars with the arrival of vessels having a capacity of 13,000-TEU capacity, West Coast ports want to beat the canal by even further expanding their 70 percent market share of U.S. imports from Asia.

 

Special Coverage

The 12,500-TEU MSC Fabiola broke records when it first called at California ports in 2012.
West Coast ports will spend the coming year in much the same way they spent the past year: preparing for big ships operated by big carrier alliances.

News & Analysis

26 Dec 2014
The berthing delays that have seen ships back up at anchorage off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for the past several weeks are now spreading up the coast to Oakland, in a spillover effect from the Southern California congestion.
19 Dec 2014
Contract negotiations continued Friday between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association. As has been the case since the negotiations began in May, neither side revealed any content from the talks.
19 Dec 2014
The Japanese government has recently expressed concern to the U.S. government regarding the delays of U.S. forage exports because of U.S. West Coast port congestion, according to an agriculture shipper group.
18 Dec 2014
Holiday shoppers in Asia will have to deal with a little less Christmas cheer this year, as trans-Pacific shipments of Christmas trees from the U.S. Pacific Northwest are the latest casualty of West Coast port congestion.
15 Dec 2014
Sixty-six percent of U.S. shippers surveyed by JOC.com say they plan to ship less cargo through the U.S. West Coast next year because of ongoing congestion and delays, suggesting that ports from Long Beach to Seattle could lose market share just as they did after a 10-day work stoppage in 2002.
09 Dec 2014
Freight shipments and spending by shippers dropped slightly in November, but remain at a post-recession high point, according to the latest Cass Freight Index.

Commentary

Kansas City Southern Railway’s Pat Ottensmeyer is making a pitch that could alleviate the pain some importers are feeling at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — advising shippers to divert shipments bound for the U.S. Gulf region away from the congestion-wracked San Pedro ports to Lazaro Cardenas in south-central Mexico.

Video

Don Krusel, Prince Rupert Port Authority president/CEO, speaks about competitiveness, labor relations and plans for expansion.
Dr. Noel Hacegaba, deputy executive director, Port of Long Beach, discusses port productivity and the impact of mega-ships, the role of infrastructure investment, and the need to emphasize system improvements to increase efficiency.
Acting Long Beach Port Director Al Moro talks about the ambitious projects to prepare the port for the big new container ships that are calling there. POLB and private investors are providing billions of dollars to build new rail lines and a huge automated container terminal, as well as to replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge, which is too low for the new ships.